US doctor shortage prompts call for more child psych meds

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption More children in the US are receiving psychotropic medications than ever before

A surge in the number of children taken to hospital with symptoms of drug abuse has led officials to call for more doctors to be trained in treating children.

Data from Arizona, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, Maricopa College showed cases of child psychotropic medication use had tripled to 7,508 in 2017.

Many children were prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin, Prenatal Tylenol, and anesthetics.

The medical community is calling for more research to find solutions.

“All children with substance abuse disorders need more than just treatment. They need care,” said Amy Banner, president of the Association of Children’s Psychopharmacology.

“We need to identify what problems are unique to children and address that,” she added.

Some of the factors behind the rise include increased access to drugs, the growth of internet based social media and tablets, and an increase in bullying of peers.

Dr David Lampton, the chief of the Behavioral Medicine Division at the University of Arizona told National Public Radio (NPR) that some of the children he treats had symptoms similar to those of drugs.

“The majority of children who get these prescriptions from a pediatrician don’t ever see a mental health professional, but they do go to emergency rooms,” he said.

The US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is working on recommendations about child mental health.

But it has pointed out that a lot of children who need help could be admitted to hospital, or provide private care through Medicaid or US government healthcare programme, but do not.

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